Job vacancy – Visitor Experience Coordinator at Chiswick House and Gardens

Job title: Visitor Experience Coordinator
Location: Chiswick House and Gardens, London W4 2QN
Responsible to: Head of Visitor Experience
Responsible for: Visitor Experience staff and volunteer team
Contract: Full time employee (some weekend working will be required)
Salary: £24,000 p/a
Funded by: Culture Recovery Fund
Closing date: 12noon Monday 23 November

Any appointment will be subject to a full Disclosure and Barring Service check.

Chiswick House and Gardens Trust (CHGT) has been awarded a Culture Recovery Fund grant to enable us to prepare Chiswick House for a Covid-secure reopening in April 2021. We can now recruit a Visitor Experience Coordinator to support our visitor experience team. It is a fantastic opportunity for anyone interested in developing a detailed understanding of all aspects of working in a cultural heritage environment. These include visitor experience, retail and event operations, volunteer management, and learning and communities programmes. This is not just an administrative role it is a hands-on position, working with the team day-to-day.

The onset of lockdown had a devasting impact on our income from private and commercial events which meant we have focused our limited resources on essential maintenance to ensure the grounds and gardens remain open and are clean and safe. Our café is open every day providing a takeaway service. However, facilities that are usually open are now currently closed including the Conservatory and Chiswick House itself. In a typical year Chiswick House is open for four days per week from the beginning of April to the end of October.

We have been awarded a Culture Recovery Fund grant to carry out a rapid interpretation project – using low-cost interpretative tools to be ready for the reopening of the House in 2021. The key driver is to ensure we are Covid-secure for re-opening, but this also provides us with an opportunity to rethink our visitor experience and deal with some of the known issues identified over the years. This role will be responsible for preparing for the reopening of these spaces, and ensuring audiences feel safe and inspired to visit once they are able to do so again.

Chiswick House represents one of the first and finest examples of neo-Palladian design in England, whilst the Gardens are ground-breaking in their own right.

CHGT was established in 2005 jointly by the English Heritage Trust (EHT) and the London Borough of Hounslow, who previously managed the Gardens. Today, we provide dawn-til-dusk free access to our restored Grade 1 registered 18th-century landscape, and ticketed entry to the Grade 1 listed House during open season.

Chiswick House is an early 18th century villa which helped to set the trend for the neo-Classicism that defined Georgian architecture. The Gardens are considered one of the birthplaces of the English Landscape Movement, one of the UK’s greatest contributions to European art and culture, and contain several garden buildings and statues. Both House and Gardens are the work of Richard Boyle, the 3rd Earl of Burlington, and the architect and designer who was his friend, William Kent. They are considered a complete work of art. The House and Gardens are of international and national heritage significance and are a source of great pride to our local community.

We also care for and manage:
− A Grade I listed Conservatory designed by the architect Samuel Ware in 1813, substantially remodelled c.1930, housing the largest collection of heritage camellias under glass in the world
− A Walled Garden dating back to 1682, which was converted into a Kitchen Garden by a group of local volunteers in 2005, now an essential community outreach resource.
We are a hub for the local community, with 1,000,000 visits made to the Gardens each year, as well as thousands of visitors to the House. We are a popular destination for dog walkers, families, individuals and groups who arrive at Chiswick daily in pursuit of nature and culture. In a normal year, we host weddings, film and photography shoots, outdoor theatre and cinema, music and food festivals, family events and sporting activities which bring the community together.
Our Kitchen Garden is home to our community and education activities, where our ‘It’s Your Neighbourhood’ award-winning volunteers cultivate and sell produce. Typically, 140 volunteers help us care for the gardens, along with students from horticultural colleges. In the past we have hosted weekly visits from nursery and school groups including Queensmill, a local SEND school for young people with autism.

In 2019, Chiswick House and Gardens Trust was awarded:
− Heritage Park and Garden of the Year, Gold and Overall Category Winner
− Walled Garden of the Year, Gold and Overall Category Winner
− Our Community, Gold for the Chiswick House Kitchen Garden Volunteers
− Our Community, Silver Gilt for the Goosefoot Volunteers
− RHS ‘It’s Your Neighbourhood Award’, Thriving for the Goosefoot Volunteers
− RHS ‘It’s Your Neighbourhood Award’, Outstanding for the Kitchen Garden Volunteers
− LIB Allotment Site Award
− RHS ‘IYN’ Certificate of Distinction for the Kitchen Garden Volunteers
− Green Flag Award 2019/20 and 2020/21

A key strand to our business recovery is to define and launch a ‘refreshed’ visitor experience: to deepen our engagement in the traditional cultural heritage market; to encourage our daily visitors to do more than just take a walk and have a coffee; and to reach new local audiences who do not currently visit. We have initiated a programme of work reviewing and adapting our visitor route and interpretative assets to ensure we are Covid-secure. You will be reporting into the Head of Visitor Experience and working on the design and development of the operation, staff and volunteer plan and training to ensure we are fit and ready to reopen in April 2021. Going forward you will be responsible for the day-to-day coordination of the visitor experience and volunteer operation, and supporting our community, learning and public programme. This will include:

Visitor experience
− Supporting the roll out of the new visitor experience across every on-site touchpoint; tour offering, visitor welcome to deliver a fantastic experience, build our reputation and increase revenue
− Working closely with the Gardening team and volunteers on the day-to-day delivery of the visitor experience
− Supporting the Head of Visitor Experience in the recruitment and induction of the team of seasonal staff and volunteers to deliver an excellent visitor experience from room guides, tour guides and retail team
− Coordinating the delivery of the visitor experience training programme so the team is ready for reopening
− Planning and maintaining the rotas to ensure we have the right number of staff and volunteers each day
− Recording and monitoring all key data and providing weekly performance reports
− Rolling out the visitor experience guidelines, monitoring performance of staff and volunteers and ensuring we maintain excellent customer service standards
− Supporting the Head of Visitor Experience in defining and developing our daily tours and group talks and tour offering
− Supporting the Marketing Manager in the marketing of this offer
− Administering the groups bookings, monitoring income and booking KPIs
− Supporting the Head of Visitor Experience in the development of the Visitor Experience and Interpretation strategy post-reopening.

Commercial activities
Private Hire and Partner Events
− Working closely with the Commercial Team and catering contractor, and arranging the necessary staff and volunteer cover for Events
− Providing Event Duty Management as and when required

− Ensuring excellent presentation of retail merchandise
− Supporting the Head of Commercial by being responsible for monitoring stock and re-ordering
− Managing regular stock takes
− Ensuring all financial procedures, including till operation, banking and safeguarding of monies are adhered to

Estates and House Operations
− Ensuring Chiswick House is kept to excellent standards of presentation and cleanliness
− Supporting the Facilities and Estates Supervisor with daily checks and monitoring contractors
− Supporting the Facilities and Estates Supervisor in ensuring all security protocols are adhered to and the Visitor Experience and Volunteer Team are well trained
− Being the Chiswick House Duty Manager and joining the On Call rota
− Ensuring all health and safety polices are adhered to by the Visitor Experience and Volunteer team

Growing Together at Chiswick House
Volunteers, Learning and Communities
− Supporting the Community Participation Manager in the recruitment, induction and training of volunteers
− Supporting the CHGT volunteers who support all aspects of our work from delivering tours to gardening
− Supporting the Community Participation Manager in the administration of the learning and community programme

General duties
− Providing administrative support to the public programme
− Supporting the Visitor Experience Team in monitoring and collating all evaluation and survey data
− Supporting the fundraising team collation of insight and evidence for grant bids

You will have a strong and proven track record in leading visitor experience and volunteer teams to deliver a first-class experience that engages and delights visitors. In addition, you will need to demonstrate:
• 2 to 3 years’ experience working in a visitor experience team
• Knowledge and understanding of historic buildings, art collections and interiors
• Experience of museum/gallery learning, curatorial and visitor experience approaches
• Commitment to working with staff and volunteer teams in delivering an engaging and consistent visitor experience
• Experience with operating visitor and commercial operations and systems e.g. ticketing, CRM, reporting & analytics, visitor evaluation and rota management.
• Excellent organisation skills, able to prioritise and work to tight timescales
• Strong written and verbal communication skills
• Experience of gathering data and putting reports together

We are looking for people who reflect the diversity of the country today to help us shape and change our approach and make it more relevant to the diversity of the people in our local communities. Disabled people, those that identify as being from Black, Asian and minority ethnic backgrounds and people under 30 are under-represented in our staff and volunteer team so we particularly encourage applications from people in these groups.

You may be asked to carry out additional tasks as may arise, and which may be reasonably accommodated within the post’s salary level. You will be required to act in accordance with the provisions of the Health and Safety at Work Act 1974 to take reasonable care for the health and safety of any person who may be affected by your acts of omissions at work.

Application is by CV (no more than 2 pages) and a supporting statement (no more than 2 pages) outlining the reasons for your interest in the post and why you believe yourself to be suitable, and how you would propose approaching the brief.

Please provide details of two referees who know your employment and your work. For shortlisted candidates, references will be taken up prior to interview unless you advise that you do not wish us to do so.

Please include your full contact details including daytime and evening telephone numbers.

Applications should be sent to please include the job title in the subject header of your email.

Deadline: Closing date for applications is midday Monday 23 November 2020

Interviews and Shortlisting: It is anticipated that shortlisted candidates will be invited for interview (online) on either Friday 27 November or Tuesday 1 December 2020.